So here’s a thing I do now, apparently.
I write a blog post, and then I don’t post it. Sometimes even a long one. No idea why. I suppose I’m getting bored with the whole thing again. Start with the inclination to post, end up with a bit of a fizzle and a drift-away a few hundred keystrokes in.
— § —
Boredom is becoming a serious and ongoing problem.
I, like so many other men in my generation, and in the younger generation, am absolutely dying for something to be inspired by, to be motivated by, to be passionate about.
© Aron Hsiao / 2003
Over the years I’ve gone through technology, open source, photography, social philosophy, and more recently, collecting wristwatches. But they all fizzle eventually. None of them have proven to be all that interesting in the long run. Sometimes the taper-off comes as a matter of disillusionment (open source, social philosophy), sometimes as a matter of simply beginning to repeat myself in an area with no real import (technology, wristwatches), sometimes as a matter of logistics and cost-benefit (photography).
There’s always been politics, but that’s more of a negative force in my life. I compulsively read politics for weeks at a time because it pisses me off so, not because it inspires me to commit myself to something or makes me eager to get up in the morning.
Some would say that I’m looking for my war. Others of the Rod Dreher variety would say that I’m looking for God. I have no idea if either is true. Maybe both are true. Maybe neither is true.
What is true is that I’m suffering from the malaise that is infecting masculinity these days across the board—the vague sense that I’m useful for so much more than I’m being used for, that my capabilities are being wasted, that there is no particular reason why I do one thing rather than another, and that nothing is of any particular import beyond the immediate and mundane (i.e. I must eat if I want to live to see tomorrow, so I’ll kick the can down the road and do X, Y, and Z to enable that particular behavior; hopefully something cooler will arise along the way).
It rarely does. And when it does, it’s only a temporary “cooler.” Within a few weeks|months (I rarely even get to years), everything is back to monochrome again.
Bunch of monkeys on a rock behaving badly toward one another, repeating things ad infinitum that have already been repeated ad infinitum and, in fact, even written down. Embarrassing.
I am jaded.
I need a project. But I also need to care about my project.
— § —
No, people and humanity and all of that nonsense doesn’t do it for me. As a rule, I’m not all that interested in people. I’ve met very few that aren’t cardboard cut-outs.
When you’re young, they convince you for a while that “every human life is valuable, and every life matters equally.”
This is clearly nonsense. It is true that life is, in juxtaposition to the known universe, comparatively rare. But rare is not at all the same thing as valuable—and the idea that every life matters equally is farcical on its face.
My life is clearly worth less than that of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs and more than that of the homeless guy on the corner out in front of Wal-Mart. Maybe it’s regrettable and we don’t like to speak in these terms, but give me a break, let’s be real and honest here.
© Aron Hsiao / 2016
And the reason that many lives are less valuable than a handful of others is that they are completely interchangeable, undifferentiated, and largely self-absorbed, like my own. Even the “people people” always turn out to be “self people” in the end.
Camille Paglia keeps saying that we’re in the decadent phase of culture, and I agree with her.
Risk and danger are, paradoxically and sadly, the only things that give human life meaning. Give everyone comfort and safety and we become unimpressive, unimportant, and irrelevant. We have everything we need in our culture, and so we set about the arduous task of feathering and refeathering our luxurious nests until we die.
Yes, yes, I’m very grateful to live in relative comfort. That doesn’t change the fact that living in relative comfort is not an ennobling thing. No, I wouldn’t trade it. But I’d be a better person if I did.
Which is why the fact that I won’t—and nobody else will, either—is so telling. It says more or less what we need to know about ourselves in 21st century America.
— § —
So what’s on the horizon for passion?
Nothing. Literally nothing. I’m supremely bored with women, with technology, with academics. I’m also bored with wristwatches and politics, but at least I’ve managed to become addicted to them.
So that’s what’s on the horizon, for no particular reason other than inertia and the avoidance of other, more harmful addictions. Because surely when there is no passion, there must stand an addiction in its place to salve the wounds left by its absence.